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Letters from the 12 Ohio Volunteer Infantry

[The 12th OVI had taken part in the battles of Bull Run, South Mountain and Antietam. The following two letters were written at a time when their location was in Fayette County, West Virginia and their main function was reconnisance. Fayette County was an area with strong Southern sympathies. Later they would take part in the chase for Morgan's Raiders and still later fight in the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain. The letter writer is William P. Jackson, a private in Company F. N. Elvick]

Fayette C.H., Va., April 22, '63

Mr. Harper—Sir:
     Please accept the thanks of the Regiment for a package of Journals sent to my address, which I distributed among the boys, who received them gladly, as one of the great helps to drive away the dull monotony of camp. We look upon your paper as one of the best county papers of our native State, and heartily approve of your bold and unflinching course in the defence [sic] of our Government against those vile traitors who are trying to sap the foundation of our Government, drink the very life blood of our nation, trail our glorious flag in the dust, which nations have delighted to honor, destroy our free institutions, tear down the monuments of our fathers, erected in the hearts of every American, and cover in oblivion the names of our ancestors, and give us for a substitute in the place of our Government a Confederacy in which slavery reigns instead of freedom; bondage instead of liberty, anarchy instead of a republic, and a flag on which is seen the vile, poisonous copperhead instead of the star spangled banner, and leave us as ancient Rome, but the broken fragments of a once powerful nation, to be a hiss and a by-word for generations yet unborn.
     You may say that you can not see any particular benefit reaped from your labor, and that the enemies of our country are better treated than its friends, but wait a while, and this wicked rebellion will be blotted from the face of the earth, and the soldiers permitted to return to their peaceful homes, and then they will delight to honor those who have been our true friends, and upheld our hands and raised our desponding and drooping spirits,—and cheered us on in the good work of liberty, by kind and cheering words from home; telling us to never fear, but press on to victory, for you would hold in check those black hearted traitors at home, who are committing treason continually, by aiding and assisting our enemies, and trying to weaken the hands of the brave soldiers, and cause their hearts to faint within them while trying to support our free institutions, and stand by that liberty purchased by the blood of our fathers.
     There is a day not far distant—for this rebellion can't survive long, in my opinion—when those wicked men will receive their just deserts from the hands of the soldiers; for when freed from an enemy in front, we will turn our attention to them, though we may not use gun-powder as we do [on] those in open rebellion, but we will most assuredly use the ballot box, which will speak to them louder than gun-powder can speak, and send them to that infamy which they so much deserve.
     You can say to the friends of the 12th O.V.I., that though we have seen some of the hard service that is talked about, and stood amid the din of battle upon some of the bloodiest fields of the war, and our ranks greatly decimated, that we are in no way discouraged, or doubt for a moment the ultimate success of our holy cause, and are resolved to do our duty until every enemy of our country is put down, both North and South. I am, as ever, your sincere friend,
     W. P. Jackson,
     12th Reg. O. V. I.

The Gallipolis Journal
May 7, 1863

Fayette C. H., Va., May 30, '63

Mr. Harper:
     On Sunday, 17th inst., our pickets were driven in from Blake's farm, some six or seven miles from camp. Early next morning four companies from the right wing of the 12th Ohio and two companies of cavalry, under command of Capt. Wilson, started forth to see what the enemy was up to. The infantry proceeded as far as the outposts and the cavalry pushed on to McCoy's, some three miles further, where they met the enemy, and had to fall back. We remained at Blake's all night, and were attacked about eight o'clock next morning by the rebels under command of Col. McCausland, who had the 36th and 60th rebel regiments and Sherman's bushwhackers, together with a small squadron of cavalry. We were compelled to fall back, closely pursued, skirmishing with the enemy all the way to camp, where they were checked by the fierce barking of Capt. McMullin's bull-dogs, which are kept here for that purpose. After exchanging about one hundred rounds and getting one of their best guns dismounted and several of their men slaughtered, they came to the conclusion to make a forward-backward movement, and give up Fayetteville as a bad job for the present. So we thought as they were going to leave we would escort them a piece, and take care of their rear guard. We followed them to Raleigh, where our company became so obnoxious that they left us, and we were forced to give up the chase. The 91st Ohio and 13th loyal Va., were anxious to come up with the rebs and exchange a few Enfield civilities, but they could not accomplish their object.
     The casualties were mostly in our regiment, and happened while skirmishing from the picket post to camp, which are as follows:—Co. A—Serg't. O. McGinnis, killed; T. Derves and J. Askens, prisoners. Co. C—private Groves, wounded slightly. Co. E—Corp. H. B. Myers, privates J. Norton and A. Sayers, prisoners. Co. I—Serg't. Kesyyurks, wounded slightly.—Co. K—privates G. Baham and Geo. Mann and Devaun, wounded severely. Baham since died; B. Wood, prisoner.—One member of the 91st Ohio was wounded, but I did not learn his name. One cavalryman was killed, two wounded, and one taken prisoner; their names I could not learn. Our loss, in killed, wounded, and missing, is sixteen. The rebel loss is not known, but if any confidence can be placed in the citizens, their loss is much greater than ours.
     We may be attacked here again soon, as I hear the rebs have been reinforced and returned to Raleigh, but all I have to say is, let them come. they will get the best we have. They will be sicker of the job next time than they were this.
     Yours truly,
     W. P. Jackson

The Gallipolis Journal
June 11, 1863

Transcribed by Eva Swain Hughes

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